Water sector city profile
The city of Kochi is home to approximately 600,000 inhabitants, whereas the urban agglomeration accommodates 2.1 million habitants. It is the economic, touristic and commercial center of the state of Kerala, which is located in the south-west region of India. The city has become increasingly exposed to the risks and concerns associated with climate change. Kochi lies barely fivee meters above the sea level on average and has a coastline of 48 kilometers. The city is embedded into a complex network of rivers, tidal creeks and backwaters. Over the past decade, increased frequency of extreme rainfall events, sea-level rise and rising temperatures have led to growing concern as well as incidents with fatalities and high property damage.
The main source of water in Kochi is the Periyar River around 20 km northeast of the city. 85 percent of the population has access to the central drinking water supply. As the water is not supplied to all households regularly, they additionally depend on private water tankers or private bore-wells. Water losses due to old, leaky pipes are very high, estimated between 40 and 80 percent. Regarding sanitation, onsite sanitation facilities are the predominant form of containment, namely septic tanks which cover 71 percent of the domestic households. However, only around 3 to 6 percent of households in Kochi are connected to a sewer system, thus most of the sewage is discharged into the environment untreated.
In Kochi, 15 project proposals were developed and submitted to the city in the form of a roadmap. One of these proposals is the exemplary integrative development of a Sustainable Neighborhood, which includes both renewable energy generation, flood risk reduction and decentralized treatment of household wastewater. This proposal will be further elaborated with local partners during the project and includes the following objectives:
- Through the use of rooftop solar energy, the share of renewable energy increases and the city becomes more independent in electricity generation.
- Decentralized wastewater treatment and organic waste composting will reduce soil and water pollution and improve the quality of life for residents.
- The green infrastructure stores rainwater, reducing the risk of flooding. At the same time, it evaporates water, providing a cooling effect for the entire area.
This exemplary solution for sustainable redevelopment can serve as a blueprint for other areas in the city, as well as for other cities with similar conditions.